Report #307

DATE: January 23, 2006
PARTIES: the Student Appellant v. the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering


Hearing Date(s): January 19, 2006

Committee Members:
Assistant Dean Bonnie Goldberg, Chair
Dr. Pamela Catton
Professor Yuki Johnson
Dr. Joel Kirsh
Ms Coralie D’Souza

Judicial Affairs Officer:
Dr. Anthony Gray

In Attendance:
the Appellant
Mr Ronald Bohm, counsel for the appellant
Mr Rob Centa, counsel for the Respondent, the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering
Ms Barbara McCann, Registrar, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering
Professor Kim Pressnail, Applied Science and Engineering
Ms Ella Lund-Thomsen, Counsellor, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering

Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering – request to increase grades from examination period – alternative request to increase sessional average and for courses taken in following term be counted – grade appeal – illness before and during exam period – remedy of assessed grade appealed – Student charged under Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters – Student allowed to attend courses pending resolution of charges and appeal – motion to compel the University to produce information not considered because information not relevant – minority opinion that information was relevant but satisfied that Faculty provided sufficient information – observation that Faculty is ill–advised to allow a student to continue in a program, when contesting a Faculty decision that the student has not met academic standards – Committee troubled by Faculty policy of assessed or inferred examinations – Faculty policy applied fairly and properly – Faculty took into account illness – Committee does not add percentages to grades to unlock academic barriers – Faculty provided constructive relief – appeal dismissed – remedy of retroactive withdrawal without academic penalty from the term restored – recommendation that Faculty arrange academic accommodations

Request to increase the grades from the examination period by 10%. In the alternative, The Student requested that his sessional average be increased 1.8% to obtain the requisite 60%, so that he could proceed to fourth year, and that the five courses he took in the following term be counted. The student had become ill with acute maxillary sinusitis before and during the exam period. The Faculty granted the student assessed grades for the exams written and not written during the term. Following allegations that the Student committed an academic offence during a mid–term examination, the Student submitted a second petition the Faculty, on the grounds of the academic sanction imposed and personal and financial concerns. The Faculty had granted the Student retroactive withdrawal from the term. The student chose not to accept that remedy, appealing the decision and refuting the imposition of the academic sanction. Accordingly, the Faculty charged the Student under the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. The Faculty allowed the Student to attend courses pending the resolution of the charges under the Code and the appeal. The parties agreed that if the appeal was dismissed, the student would receive no credit for the courses. The Student brought a motion for an order compelling the University to produce additional information about the student’s performance in the courses he was taking pending the resolution of his appeal, and an adjournment to consider the information. The Committee deliberated in camera regarding the relevance of the grades. The Committee found that the student’s academic performance subsequent to the events at issue in the appeal were not relevant and therefore there was no need to compel the production of the information or to make a determination as to whether the agreement between the parties was followed. A minority of the Committee found that the grades were relevant to the deliberations, but was satisfied with the information provided by the Faculty. The Committee observed that it was an ill–advised interim arrangement for a student to be allowed to continue in a program when contesting a Faculty decision that he has not met its academic standards. The Committee found that that the Faculty took into account the Student’s illness through its formula and its adherence to its own guidelines and provided the relief it would provide to any other student in the program. The Committee stated its discomfort with the mechanistic nature of assessing grades by formula when a student is unable to perform due to reasons beyond his control. The Committee stated that it was troubled that the Faculty persists in providing accommodation in the form of assessed or inferred examinations rather than supplemental examinations, but found that the Faculty applied its policy fairly and properly in regard to this accommodation. The Committee found that in the normal course of its duties, it does not add percentages to grades to craft an average that would unlock an academic barrier to proceeding in a program. With reference to the second petition, the Committee found that, in revisiting its original decision, the Faculty provided constructive relief to the Student. Appeal dismissed. Divisional remedy of retroactive withdrawal without academic penalty from the term affirmed. The Committee ordered that the Student was to receive no credit for the courses taken in the following term. The Committee recommended that the Faculty arrange academic accommodations for the Student given that he had missed the first few weeks of the term.